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Living Off the Grid: Sustainable Gardening

When it comes to living off-grid, many choose to take the route of truly living “with” the land. This may include planting and maintaining your own garden. Because this could become a novel of information we would like to hit a few key points and ideas and link you to another blog that breaks down every aspect of how to design build and maintain a true sustainable garden.

A few things to consider when designing a sustainable garden is to consider your surroundings. Choose plants that will help support local wildlife and try to stay away from harsh chemicals and fertilizers that put harmful additives into the soil. The best solution is to combine natural ingredients to create a healthy and lively outdoor living space. There are many types of sustainable gardens to create around your home; you can build a garden to produce healthy fruits and vegetable or a garden that is just for looks. Either way if you follow the practices of sustainable gardening you can build a healthy outdoor space for you and your family and friends to enjoy.

A great way to cut down on waste and save money is to create your own compost pile. Many places sell containers to hold your mulch until it is ready to use. By using a compost pile you can add things to it like leaves that you raked for the yard and any leftover fruits, vegetable and natural foods, thus saving space in the garbage and reducing your waste. This also saves you money because you do not have to purchase compost. Along with tossing leftover foods and yard clippings into your compost bin, there are directions to assisting in the breakdown of you compost with water and heat to make it suitable to mix into your garden.

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Living Off the Grid- Building Materials

When it comes to the construction of your off-grid home, the materials you choose are up to you. There are several ways to go about choosing materials and it all comes down to how much you want to spend and in some cases how “green” you want to be. We say “green” because many people choose to live off grid in hope of diminishing their personal eco-footprint (their negative effect on the planet). Just like the story of the three little pigs some common material choices are wood, brick and yes even straw. You may be thinking how and why in the world would I want my home to be made of straw. It can’t be durable nor water tight….

Strawbale construction has become very popular in the green living and off-grid living world. No, you won’t have a grass hut. This means of construction involves bales of tightly bound straw that is stacked like brinks to form your walls. It can them be covered with stucco and no one is the wiser. Plus it’s a great means of insulation.

If straw is not for you than traditional wood or brick construction may be the way to go. This is where you can decode to take a green path. Wood that is untreated provides a healthy indoor environment for you and your family. When you take out the harsh chemical treatments that are applied to most woods, you take out the harmful off-gassing. Instead of … Read the rest of this entry »

 

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Living Off the Grid- Choosing Property

Here are a few of the things that you need to take into consideration when finding property to build your new off grid or rural home. Get a realtor that is familiar with off-grid and rural properties and knows what you plan to do, will help you find the perfect property to suit your dream homestead needs.

Does the property face South (ish)? If not, forget about passive solar home design, and prepare to spend twice as much on active solar (eg solar panels). With passive solar you heat, cool and ventilated with the sun and thermal mass (the building and materials it’s made of) and Active solar which uses solar panels and mechanical means to create heat and ventilation.

Does the property retain all water and mineral rights? The last thing you want is a nice, strong stream that you can’t do anything with, a well that has to be shared with an irresponsible neighbor who likes to wash their car with a hose every week, or some coal company running their dozers all over the place because somewhere a few generations ago a previous land owner sold the mineral rights.

Has it been perk tested? A piece of land that doesn’t drain well cold make it very difficult to get a septic system in place and can cost you a lot of money in repairs after heavy rains cause flooding. Your garden will have troubles too.

What is the water source? Does it have a well or a spring? If not, how deep did the neighboring properties have to drill? You’ll want to get that checked out before signing the dotted line. An off grid property without water is almost useless for someone who wants to live there full time.

How does the land lay? Aside from having a south-facing building site, is there a pasture area and garden area that gets plenty of sun? Is it flat, sloping, or steep? If you have “great views” that might mean that it’s steep. Homesteaders who plan on having any kind of livestock or sizeable garden should have a few acres of level land or one with a slight slope.

What are the restrictions? I’m assuming you want to get away from things like covenants and homeowners associations because you’re looking for off grid or rural land. So the last thing you want to do is get half-way through the process, fall in love with a property, and discover that you can’t have those goats or chickens you dreamed about due to a deed restriction of some kind. Or there may be a restriction on the number of dwellings allowed, and if you want to rent out cabins you want to know if that’s okay before you invest your time and money.

Are there any easements? Do you have to go through someone else’s property to reach your own? If so, is that stipulated in both deeds? Don’t trust a friendly handshake on this. What if the neighbor sells his property to a developer or a jerk? Get everything in writing!

Is the road county maintained? This could come down to preference. Some might like the idea of getting “snowed in” for a few weeks, but if you have health problems and might need to get to a hospital, or don’t have enough food “stored” to get you through the winter months, a county-operated plow could mean the difference between life and death. Another possible issue may be if it is a dirt road into your property. Do you have the equipment needed to maintain it during the rainy months when erosion occurs? This is also an important factor when you need building materials delivered or if you have a large propane tank to be filled, how will large vehicles get in?

Research, Research, Research!

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Living Off the Grid: A Guide To Self Sufficient Living

What does it mean to live “off-grid”? Living off-grid means that you are completely self sufficient and do not depend on resources like city sewer, power and water, you have to create your own resources.  In this series of Living Off the Grid we will talk about the many tips, tricks and know how for building a home and successfully living off grid.

There are many things to take into consideration if living off-grid sounds like a great idea to you. Like everything there are positives and negatives; and for some negatives aren’t so negative and positives aren’t that great. Having to find your own water source, installing a septic tank and either designing your home to utilize natural light and heat or incorporating solar panels aren’t the easiest nor most inexpensive feats.

If the following sounds like some of the things you would like to take on then off-grid living or a rural homestead may in fact be for you.

  • Gardening vs. buying produce at the store.
  • Living in a green, or sustainably built home.
  • Composting.
  • Producing energy via alternative methods.
  • Making your own bio-fuel.
  • Cutting out extras (four TVs for example).
  • Making homemade cleaners.
  • Collecting water via a rain barrel.
  • Raising your own food – i.e. chickens.

Living off-grid is a great opportunity to “live green”, and the perfect chance to live with your environment creating a healthy and happy place to be. Though living “green” may seem like a fad to most, it is in fact a great way to live and can be a necessity to those that live outsode of the city and it’s urban areas. You can choose to make your home of “green” materials  or incorporate green and regular building materials. You can make your homestead Passive solar or Active solar meaning you can either use natural sources for light, heat and ventilation or mechanical. Utilizing solar panels can be a large investment up front but they save you bundles down the road as they produce your lighting, heating, cooling and heat your water. Green living allows you to depend less on “the man” and more upon the earth.

Stay Tuned For Living Off the Grid: Choosing Property

 

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